By Chimezie Godfrey
The Ukomu Igala Organisation (UIO), the umbrella body for all socio-cultural and political organizations in Kogi East Senatorial District, has decried the unsavoury security situation in Igala land, leading to fear, apprehension, and rampant bloodshed in the nine local government areas.
In a statement jointly signed by its National Leader, Mr David Abutu and National Secretary, Dr Sabastine Abu, the organization expressed worry over kidnapping, armed robbery, cold blooded murder and violent attacks, which have taken over Igala land.
It stated,”The attention of Ukomu Igala Organisation (UIO), the umbrella body for all socio-cultural and political organizations in Kogi East Senatorial District, has been drawn to the unsavoury security situation in Igala land, leading to fear, apprehension, and rampant bloodshed in the nine local government areas.
“The most worrisome are instances of kidnapping, armed robbery, cold blood murder and violent attacks, which have taken over Igala land. There are many instances of violent killings in villages and farmlands, kidnapping for ransom, and raiding of villages. Below are a few of them:
“Kidnap of Onu Iyankpe, a surbub of Bagana in Omala Local Government Area of Kogi State. He was killed after his assailants collected ransom in April 2021.
“On July 18, a medical doctor, Dr Solomon Nidiamaka, working with General Hospital Ugwolawo, in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi state was kidnapped by gunmen.
” On September 6, 2021, Mrs Fatimetu Ishaku, the General Manager of Radio Kogi at Ochaja was kidnapped.
” On September 11, 2021, one Idris Bala was killed by criminal Fulani herdsman at Ojapata Oganigu.
“Multiple kidnapping in Ejule, Eyele, and Ochadamu Umori axis in Ofu Local Government Area.
“Multiple kidnappings at Itobe-Ojodu axis.
“Frequent kidnapping between Inwele and Igah-Ikeje, especially at Adumu village, in Igah District of Olamaboro Local Government Area by suspected criminal Fulani.
“House-to-house attack on POS operators in Abejukolo in July. Four POS operators were robbed.
“Constant invasion and burgling of homes in many villages in Igala land. The criminals operate with impunity, as they are usually more armed than local vigilantes.
“Killing of four persons at Otutubatu (Bagana) in Omala LGA in kidnap incident recently.
“In many Igala communities farmers cannot access their farmlands due to incessant attacks by Fulani herdsmen.”
UIO noted that these acts of violence are not hidden, adding that they are known to the security operatives, but none of them has been investigated to a logical conclusion.
“With very few persons being arrested, probed and punished, impunity has continued to grow and gain more ground in Kogi East.
“Therefore, many communities in Igala land are being deprived of their legitimate sources of business, while, our elite in towns and cities find it difficult to visit the place of their birth for fear of being attacked or kidnapped.
“This organisation is also peeved by the multiplicity of criminal minds in leaps and bounds in Igala, which can be traced to dirty politics, witnessed in the 2019 governorship election in the state,” it stated.
It noted with grave concern how the youths were armed with weapons of mass destruction for the purpose of disrupting the electoral process, causing mayhem, arson and murder during the period.
According to the statement, one of the instances was the inhuman and gruesome killing of Mrs Salome Abuh, a woman leader and a community activist, who was burnt alive in her family house in Ochadamu, in Ofu Local government .
It added,”The organisation is forced to believe that the spiraling of criminality in Igala land is not unconnected with arms and ammunition made available to political thugs to subvert the election.
“The weapons, it has been noted, are still in possessions of the political thugs, who may be using them for selfish criminal purposes.
“Igala people are naturally peace loving. No society can grow in an atmosphere instability and lack of peace.
“The organisation cannot stand and watch, with lamentation, while a land renowned for peace is being desecrated and destroyed by Fulani bandits and local criminal elements.”
Ukomu Igala therefore condemned the criminal attack, and calls on the security agencies to find an enduring solution to the recurring situation, which has brought untold hardship and sorrow to the community, over the years.
“We call on the state government, working with security agencies, local government chairmen, traditional rulers, and security experts, to put in place an effective security arrangement to respond to the peculiar challenges facing Igala land and Kogi State at large. It is apparent that this abnormal situation demands a peculiar approach to the growing criminality.
“We call for investigation into killings, robberies, and rampant kidnapping in Kogi East, to ensure that the masterminds of these criminal activities are captured and made to face the music.
“The state government must join hands with security agencies to replicate military operation against bandits in Zamfara State especially, to smoke out criminals who have made life unbearable in Kogi East.
“The police and other security agencies must respond to distress calls from communities in Igala land. Most times, the police do not respond to distress calls from villagers when they are being raided by bandits.
“The people in Igala land are Nigerians, and deserve to be protected, as stipulated in the Nigerian Constitution,” the group noted.
UIO urged the Nigeria Police Force to deploy more policemen in Igala land as, in most districts, there are hardly up to a dozen policemen.
The organization also urged the federal government to establish a military barracks in Igala land to complement the efforts of the other security agencies.
“In collaboration with the security agencies, the state government should use all measures possible, to mop up or retrieve the dangerous weapons still left in the hands the political thugs in question.
“UIO calls on all communities in Igala land to put in place dependable and formidable Community Security outfits, which could assist the efforts of the security agencies.
“Towards this end, traditional institutions are admonished to be pillars of support and encouragement for all efforts geared toward promoting security and peace,” the group stated.